Use three words to describe yourself This question always puts me into job interview mode…so I’ll have to try to be more fun than that! Let’s see…adventurous, food-loving, and curious.
So you’re a New Yorker who moved to Jackson, Wyoming and is now back in New York City. Tell me about this. I moved to Jackson because I wanted to be somewhere as different as possible from New York. And I wanted to be personally challenged in a place where the lifestyle would be very different. And you can’t get more different from New York than Jackson Hole! My time there turned me from a true to my core city girl into a city girl with a bit of an outdoorsy edge.
What brought you back to New York? Number one reason: Family. Three years was long enough to be way from home. I am super close with my family and now I get to see them all the time! It’s a nice change…and Jackson did start to feel a bit small after a while and I missed the opportunity and adventure that living in a big city can provide.
What did you do in Jackson? My rule for myself was I could only move there if I got a job I could put on my resume. I don’t have it in me to be a ski bum, I need to be constantly challenged…a blessing and a curse! So my first job was in hotel sales, which I actually really enjoyed, but 150 phone calls in one day, every day, is way too many! Then I met my soul-mate-friend, and she got me an interview for the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. I started about eight months after I got to Jackson and fell in love with their mission. I started doing their online auction, and with that successfully raising $40,000, I was promoted to Development Director soon after that. In this role I planned upwards of 50 events for anywhere from 20-700 people and all for a good cause…and I loved that combination. It’s funny how you might find out about what you love, and what you are good at! If I had never moved to Jackson I might have never discovered that about myself.
Interesting! We are the exclusive travel partner for the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Give us a little more background on the Festival and its mission. The festival believes in the power of media to inspire an individual’s connection with nature and science. But more broadly, they are passionate about the environment, the world’s creatures, ways to invest in the world’s future, and that is something that similarly attracted me to Absolute Travel. The missions of both companies are very much aligned. Absolute Travel has begun to roll out their Absolute Awareness program, which is all about making sure there is a beautiful world to travel to by championing conservation and sustainable tourism. They connect conservation and travel, much the way the Festival connected media and conservation, which altogether are my passions. I don’t think I could have found a better fit than with AT!
What inspired you to travel? The first experience I did on my own, which involved secretly applying to a summer program in Paris during my sophomore year of high school. After I got in, I managed to convince my parents to not only let me go, but to pay for it. So I was fortunate to spend a month in Paris, by myself, and fell in love not only with the city, but with traveling. From that point forward, traveling for me meant an opportunity to find myself all over again…to have a bigger perspective of the world, and to see the value and importance of experiencing other cultures and seeing how others live. Since then I’ve taken every opportunity I can to travel in any context—whether volunteering, visiting friends, or just out of curiosity or pure wanderlust.
Most memorable moment on a trip? I would say Cambodia in 2011. We stayed at Amansara, a luxury boutique hotel in Siem Reap. We had an amazing guide who helped me get special access to one-of-a-kind experiences. And on a very early morning during our trip, before sunrise, our guide snuck us into Angkor Wat, where we got to watch the sunrise from within the upper most level of the temple. We were all alone. It was magical.
Tell me about what you do at Absolute Travel I split my time between two departments at the moment. First I manage our affinity travel program. It involves working with a variety of different partners to do group trips sometimes for organizations that are Absolute Awareness partners such as American Jewish World Service, Human Rights Watch, or for organizations or institutions we are the exclusive travel partner for, which most recently includes The Explorers Club (that’s top secret—not released yet!). And with my other hat, I work in the Marketing Department. Match made in heaven. One of my favorite parts of working in both departments, is in marketing I still get to pursue one of my passions which is event planning and as it turns out the skill set is very applicable to planning group trips, where I get to work with organizations whose missions are very much aligned with issues I care about. So it’s the best of both worlds…and not to mention, I get to work with some incredible partners such as the CORE: Club, which is pretty much an event planner’s dream. There is a lot on the calendar (we hope!) down the pipeline, which means I get to be very busy doing exactly what I love. We are hoping to work with our partners like The Explorers Club, AJWS, and preferred properties like Singita, Amanresorts, and the American Prairie Reserve’s Kestrel Camp to bring a lot of our passions, interests and causes to inspired audiences. Does it get better than that?!
(Interview interrupted by Absolute Travel President & Founder, Ken Fish, who arrived at his office in a Cuban tuxedo—all white with a panama hat, a big smile, and a big tan.)
What is it like being a part of the Absolute team? I think one of the coolest things about this office is how committed everyone is to being part of the AT team. We all have a serious passion for travelling and caring about the world, and with that in common it makes everyone really invested seeing this company succeed every day. That being said however, they torture me with great birthday parties full of food I cannot eat.
Why not? I have an unfortunate gluten and lactose sensitivity. It’s the most uncool thing about me. It will make my upcoming Italy trip a challenge—the land of meat and cheese!
What is important to you when you travel? I am a big foodie…the more the trip revolves around food, the better.
How is that possible considering what you just told me?! Ironic I know, but I didn’t always have those! It makes me more adventurous and creative in finding things to eat. I treat it like an adventure and a puzzle. You’d be surprised by what you can find when you’re on that kind of an epicurean mission.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten? It was actually in New York—a fried tarantula’s leg.
Tell me more. A few people on our staff were able to attend the Explorers Club Annual Dinner, which, if you know anything about this event, is that they serve some prett-y exotic cuisine during the cocktail hour. Personally I tasted champagne with worm, and fried tarantula. My colleagues Sasha and Brooke drank martinis with goat penis garnish, and Katie attempted to eat a fried cockroach which did not go well. Good memories… we tried and we almost conquered.
What’s always on your packing list? Chapstick. Sunscreen. Snacks (bc I am always hungry), sunglasses, regular glasses, my iPad with loads of books downloaded (I’m a really fast reader so the iPad is perfect for me) and tissues, because I am one of those unfortunate people who ALWAYS has the sniffles, regardless of season or country. Oh! And this is dorky, but Bare Minerals mineral veil. The perfect powder for all locations and occasions, AND it has sunscreen.
Travel words to live by? Ohh this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that I love: “The purpose of life is to live it…to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
What’s the best part about coming home? Hamburgers! That’s always what I crave when I come back from a trip. And if there was bacon on there I wouldn’t complain…does it get more American than that?!